DC has spent over $20 million on migrant crisis in past year

Only on 4: Information obtained by News4 shows what D.C.’s new Office of Migrant Services has done and how the District has spent tens of millions of dollars

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Almost a year after D.C.’s mayor declared the influx of buses carrying migrants from Texas and Arizona an emergency and launched the D.C. Office of Migrant Services, the office has just one full-time employee and the District has spent more than $20 million responding to the crisis.

Information obtained by News4 shows D.C. spent $11.8 million on hotel rooms that served as temporary housing for migrants. In May, D.C. stopped offering these rooms because of a lack of funding.

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration funded the Office of Migrant Services with $10 million last year. According to data provided to News4, the funds were spent on facilities, staffing, security, meals, transportation, case management and basic supplies.

Officials tell News4 an additional $500,000 was spent directly on bus arrivals.

Council Member Robert White, who has oversight of the Office of Migrant Services, said he wants to hear a clear plan.

“I am concerned that we haven’t seen a buildup of staff or a position articulated by the administration about where we’re going with respect to migrants,” he said.

Thousands of men, women and children have arrived in D.C. since the governors of Texas and Arizona began busing them to D.C. last spring. Bowser called the influx of migrants a crisis and requested help from the National Guard. In September, she established the Office of Migrant Services to oversee the District’s response. In January, Bowser named Tatiana Laborde the director of the office.

Six months after she was hired, data from the Bowser administration shows Laborde is the only full-time employee of the office. She works with nine temporary, contract workers who are being phased out and are expected to be replaced with full-time employees this fall.

In June, the Office of Migrant Services opened a long-promised welcome center. So far, 528 people have been processed through the facility.

D.C.'s homeless shelters are at capacity as busloads of migrants continue to arrive daily. Some migrants say they're sleeping on the streets. News4's Mark Segraves reports.

The District is expecting financial help from the federal government. D.C. has been promised $16.5 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds. Next month, $5.6 million of those funds are expected to be received.

The Bowser administration declined to provide anyone to be interviewed for this report. A spokesperson said they requested $1.7 million in reimbursement from the federal government to help with the cost of hotel rooms.

Nonprofits including SAMU First Response have provided the majority of support for thousands of people who continue to arrive in D.C. on buses sent from border states.

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